Why is Cyber Security important?

Cyber security – defined as the protection of systems, networks and data in cyberspace – is a critical issue for all businesses. Cyber security will only become more significant as more devices become connected to the internet and control of these devices is lost.

Today Cyber Security is critically important to any business who wishes to operate online, in the cloud or engage with social media. Nowadays, every company in what they do has to be aware of the threats and challenges in the web. 

Your organisation’s computer systems - and the information they hold - can be compromised in many ways. It may be through malicious or accidental actions, or simply through the failure of software or electronic components. And whilst you need to consider all of these potential risks, it is malicious attack from the Internet (cyber-attacks) that is hitting the headlines and damaging organisations.

EVERY organisation is a potential victim. All organisations have something of value that is worth something to others. If you openly demonstrate weaknesses in your approach to cyber security by failing to do the basics, you will experience some form of cyber-attack.

As part of your risk management processes, you should be assessing whether you are likely to be the victim of a targeted or un-targeted attack; every organisation connected to the Internet should assume they will be a victim of the latter. Either way, you should implement basic security controls consistently across your organisation, and where you may be specifically targeted, ensure you have a more in-depth approach to cyber security.

I’ve been attacked, what do I do?

There is no such thing as 100% security and your organisation will probably experience some form of cyber-attack at some time. Having an effective security incident response plan can help to reduce the impact of the attack, clean up the affected systems and get the business back up and running within a short time.

Reducing your exposure using essential security controls

Fortunately, there are effective and affordable ways to reduce your organisation’s exposure to the more common types of cyber-attack on systems that are exposed to the Internet. The following controls are contained in the Cyber Essentials, together with more information about how to implement them:

  • boundary firewalls and internet gateways - establish network perimeter defences, particularly web proxy, web filtering, content checking, and firewall policies to detect and block executable downloads, block access to known malicious domains and prevent users’ computers from communicating directly with the Internet
  • malware protection - establish and maintain malware defences to detect and respond to known attack code
  • patch management - patch known vulnerabilities with the latest version of the software, to prevent attacks which exploit software bugs
  • whitelisting and execution control - prevent unknown software from being able to run or install itself, including AutoRun on USB and CD drives
  • secure configuration - restrict the functionality of every device, operating system and application to the minimum needed for business to function
  • password policy - ensure that an appropriate password policy is in place and followed
  • user access control - include limiting normal users’ execution permissions and enforcing the principle of least privilege
  • security monitoring - to identify any unexpected or suspicious activity
  • user training education and awareness - staff should understand their role in keeping your organisation secure and report any unusual activity
  • security incident management - put plans in place to deal with an attack as an effective response will reduce the impact on your business.

The 10 Steps to Cyber Security sets out the features of a complete cyber risk management regime. There are many effective and comprehensive schemes and open standards that your organisation can apply to support a defence-in-depth strategy, if this approach isn’t already implemented.

Raising your cyber defences

The Internet can be a hostile environment. The threat of attack is ever present as new vulnerabilities are released and commodity tools are produced to exploit them. Doing nothing is no longer an option; protect your organisation and your reputation by establishing some basic cyber defences to ensure that your name is not added to the growing list of victims.

Richard Bell, member of the TenIntelligence Advisory Board and Head of Security Operations & Investigations at the Transport for London adds:

"Essentially when applying good cyber security arrangements, whether it be process or product based you attempting to protect those most critical or important assets belonging to your organisation. The dynamics of the threat vectors we are seeing are specifically targeting the big data of organisations and increasingly attack on operational technology in industrial control systems. 

Both have significant consequences. The loss of customer data and thereafter any loss of confidence and/or maybe more worryingly, the loss of control in a system that could result in the loss of life.

Be prepared, have a response plan, ensure that the response is robust enough for the organisation to make informed decisions and if necessary public comment. Once done, go through the protection cycle again and prepare yourself for the next time, there will be one. Cyber Security is serious, but should not be considered in isolation, good physical and personnel arrangements needs to be in place to support it". 

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